Patronizing vs Condescending: 11 Things You Should Know


The word “patronize” comes from the Latin word for “father.” It’s a verb meaning to “show or feel respect towards someone in a superior position” and it can be used as both an adjective, like when you want your coffee made just how you like it, or as a noun.

A patronizing attitude is what makes certain people think of their superiors with admiration because they are doing something that benefits them. They might not always agree with the person but they still have some level of respect for them because they are affecting change in society.

On the other hand, condescension means to behave towards someone who has less power than oneself with an attitude of superiority which may come off as insulting or disrespectful.

What does patronizing mean?

Patronizing is when you talk to someone like they are a child. It also means to show someone a high degree of respect, especially in an exaggerated or false way.

Often times it is used to describe somebody who is condescending and snobbish, or when they act like someone else’s opinion doesn’t matter. A patronizing person might also explain something in an unnecessarily complicated way- as if they’re speaking down to the other person.

What does condescending mean?

Have you ever been in a situation where someone says or does something that makes you feel belittled and humiliated? If so, then chances are the person was being condescending to you. When people use this word, they often think of it as a type of rude behavior where someone is looking down on another person.

To be condescending in tone of voice is to speak or act as though one knows more than the person they are speaking to. It can come off negatively because it often appears that this other party isn’t getting their due level of respect and consideration.

What’s the difference between patronizing and condescending?

Patronizing means to treat someone in a superior manner, usually with pity. Condescending means to look down on someone or speak about them as if they are less intelligent than you.

You can see examples of this from when parents speak in a condescending tone to their children or when teachers talk down to students who have not done well on an exam.

Patronizing people is a form of bullying and can be emotionally devastating. Condescending means to look down on someone or speak about them as if they are less intelligent than you, which can lead to some serious trust issues in the future.

What is an example of patronizing?

Imagine a young person who mentions their interest in psychology and their plan to pursue a professional career in this field to a friend. The friend responds by saying:

“Oh? Well then why don’t you just go get your degree?”

This comment comes off not only as disrespectful but also dismissive. When he makes this comment, he insinuated that the young person couldn’t possibly know anything about the subject because he didn’t have an education in it yet and therefore lacks the foundation of becoming successful in this field.

Other common examples are:

  • Calling someone “young lady” or “little girl”.
  • Asking a person to speak more slowly because they’re speaking too quickly.
  • Telling someone that their opinion is wrong and you know better than them.
  • When you say something and know that it’s not true, but you’re trying to make the other person feel better.
  • When a man talks down to a woman because he thinks she’s less intelligent than him.

Is patronizing good or bad?

A patronizing person is someone who treats others as if they are inferior and offers them help or advice, which may be unwanted. So, in general being patronizing is a rather bad thing.

But there are also situations where it could be a good thing. For example, if you’re trying to teach someone how to do something and they don’t know anything about the subject matter then you may need to be patronizing in order for them to learn. If you try teaching them with no condescension at all then they’ll get frustrated because there’s nothing they can relate to.

Is patronizing a form of bullying?

The word “patronizing” is often used as an insult and can therefore be a form of bullying. They are basically trying to put you down and force their opinions on you through arrogance or condescension.

Patronizing can be defined as a negative and condescending attitude towards someone or something, such as a patronizing tone when speaking to children.

What is a patronizing attitude?

A patronizing attitude is defined as “to speak or act towards someone in a condescending way that expresses pity, contempt, or condescension.” This type of attitude can come from anyone including friends and family.

Patronizing attitudes are the bane of our society. They are ugly and can hurt both the person on the receiving end as well as those who dish them out.

What does patronizing a private business mean?

Patronizing a private business means supporting the owners of that business and their employees. When you patronize a business, you are giving your money to them in exchange for goods and services.

You are also voting with your dollars for the type of products they carry and how much they charge.

A common misconception is that patronizing a private business means you’re supporting the oppressor. In reality, it means the opposite. You’re supporting an entrepreneur who’s providing goods and services to their community when government can’t or won’t do so.

When people patronize businesses, they are supporting those businesses and giving them the opportunity to grow and become successful.

How can you tell if someone is patronizing you?

Patronizing statements are often disguised as compliments, but can be easily identified by their condescending tone. When dealing with a patronizer, it’s best not to engage them in conversation about your abilities or knowledge of the subject matter because they will quickly turn into an argument that leaves you frustrated and upset.

These are the most common signs that somebody is patronizing you:

  • They talk to you like they’re your parent, not an equal.
  • They talk down to you.
  • They give you unsolicited advice or opinions.
  • They use a lot of “you know” or “like” in their speech.
  • They use an overly formal tone of voice.
  • They don’t make eye contact with you while they’re talking to you.
  • They make jokes that are too obvious and aren’t funny.
  • They make fun of your clothes, hair, etc.
  • They use words like “honey” or “sweetie”.
  • They use a high-pitched voice.

Is condescending an insult?

The word condescending is kind of an insult because it has a negative connotation. It is often used to describe people who treat others as inferior and think they are better than them.

When someone is condescending, they are being rude and dismissive. They might say something like “you know that already” or “it’s so easy”. These types of comments can be really frustrating to deal with because it makes the other person feel belittled. It also shows a lack of respect for the other persons intelligence.

It’s an insult to somebody else’s intelligence because the other person thinks they’re superior.

Examples of condescending phrases

We all know that feeling of being undermined, insulted, and patronized. It is a frustrating experience that can happen in any number of ways, but most often at work or home with friends and family. The worst part about being condescended to is the realization that you are not in control of how it makes you feel; someone else has done the damage and left you feeling belittled and incapable.

Here are some of the most common condescending phrases people have heard in their lifetime:

“I don’t want to sound like a jerk, but…”

“You’re not going to get anywhere with an attitude like that.”

“It’s just common sense.”

“Don’t you know anything?”

“Thank you so much. Your insightful point of view has energized and challenged us all.”

“I’d agree with you, but then both of us would be wrong.”

“That’s incredible… where did you get that idea?”

“By saying that, you have somewhat surpassed my expectations.”

“I’m not sure you’re ready for this.”

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